Friday, March 18, 2016

Three Tips for Planning Video Projects

I love video projects because the entire process of developing project ideas, creating the video, and sharing the video engages almost all students. Over the years I have helped hundreds (maybe thousands) of students and teachers create videos in their classrooms. If you haven't tried making videos with your students or you have and it didn't go as you hoped it would have, here are three of my favorite tips for planning video projects.

1. Keep it short and sweet. 
A 90 second video that is well planned and edited can pack a lot of punch. By putting a time limit on the final product you are asking students to really think about what is important in the story they are telling or the points they are trying to convey.

2. Make students draft an outline before they touch any video editing tools. 
By making my students draft an outline before they started to use any video production tools I was able to help them focus on identifying the purposes of their videos. Their outlines should include a list of the B-roll footage they might want to use, types of background images they want to use, sound effects they might add, a narration script if necessary, and a dialogue script if necessary. All outlines should identify what the students are trying to demonstrate through the production of their videos.

3. Identify what you're going to assess.
It can be easy to get distracted by a good-looking video and forget that we are trying to assess what our students have learned or are trying to demonstrate to us. For that reason I always outline what it is I am looking for in a final video and I share that outline with my students. Some of the things that I've assessed in video projects in my social studies classes include understanding of sequence of events, understanding of cause and effect of events, understanding a diversity of view points, and use of persuasive arguments.

Topics like this one and many others will be covered in-depth during the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp on July 11th and 12th. Discounted early registration is available now. Discounted group registration is also available now. Click here for more information.

Three Ways to Share Your Screen and Lend Tech Help

From time to time you may find yourself in need of a quick way to share your screen remotely. Sharing your screen with students can be a good way to walk them through an application or give them a virtual presentation. Likewise, screen sharing can be useful for professional development in which you're introducing colleagues to the ins and outs of program. Here are three free options for screen sharing. is a free service offered by Log Me In. allows Mac and Windows users to quickly share their screens with each other and work together. To use you do need to download the client. Once you've downloaded the client you can start sharing your screen with anyone you like. Just give your nine digit access number to your collaborators to give them access to your screen and to converse with you.

Screen Leap is a free screen sharing service. To share your screen using Screen Leap just visit the site, click "share your screen," enable the Java applet, and send the sharing code to the person you want to view your screen. The person receiving your invitation code will be able to see your screen when you have Screen Leap activated.

Google+ Hangouts offer an easy way to share your screen with other Google+ users. To get started just go to then launch your video Hangout. Invite people to join your Hangout. Once they have joined you can share your screen by selecting the screen sharing option from the menu in the upper-right corner of your Hangout screen.

Who Owns Antarctica? - A Political Geography Lesson

Who owns Antarctica? That's an interesting question that many of my geography students wondered and asked over the years. The answer to that question is a clear and simple one. As more people, countries, and companies explore the continent it will become more and more important to define what can or cannot be done in Antarctica. CGP Grey tackles these issues in his video Who Owns Antarctica?

Applications for Education
The video raises a couple of good questions to have your students research and discuss. First, what are the natural resources that countries and companies might want to extract from Antarctica? Who should manage conservation on the continent? What will happen to Antarctica as more countries try to make claims to it?

Liberty - The Chronicle of the American Revolution

Liberty, The American Revolution is a feature on There are a couple of resources in this feature that are worth noting. First, and probably the most useful, is The Chronicle of Revolution. The Chronicle of Revolution provides a timeline of events that contributed to the start of the American Revolution. Students can read newspaper accounts as they go through the chronicles. Within each newspaper account are links to further reading about important people and places mentioned in the articles.

The second item of interest in Liberty, The American Revolution is the Road to Revolution game. The game isn't really a game, it's more like a quiz with some graphics added to it. The game is designed to quiz students on the information in The Chronicle of Revolution.

Applications for Education
At this point the Chronicle of Revolution website is getting a bit dated (it was originally published in 2004), but the content on the site is still useful in supporting lessons on the American Revolution. The Chronicle of Revolution and the Road to Revolution are best suited to use with middle school students or possibly older elementary school students.